Story by Josephine Mugiyo, Diplomatic Correspondent
The 36th Ordinary Session of the African Union Summit officially opened in Addis Ababa this Saturday, with leaders reiterating the need for the continent to work on building infrastructure and accelerating implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
The outgoing chairman of the African Union, President Macky Sall of Senegal spoke against the abuse of women and girls, particularly in areas affected with conflict like the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
The theme of the summit: “The year of AFCTA: Acceleration of the African Continental Free Trade Area Implementation” saw focus being drawn to the enablers needed to ensure that barriers of trade like infrastructure and air connectivity are attended to.
“We cannot continue to witness the abuse of girls and women. Africa needs to work on its infrastructure. We need to build the Africa we want,” he said.
The United Nations Secretary General Mr Antonio Guterres applauded African countries for their stance in job creation. He also said there is need to act on climate change which has bedeviled the continent.
“Africa has been doing well in job creation. Despite Africa not contributing much to emissions, they are being affected by climate change. There is need to act now on climate change,” said Guterres.
As President Sall finished his term as the AU chairmanship, he handed over the baton to Comoros President Mr Azali Assoumani who said he is ready to ensure the African continent implements the free trade area.
“As you have entrusted me to implement the free trade area we should also focus on self-sufficiency. Our continent is still facing numerous conflicts that need to be dealt with,” he said.
More issues to do with the well-being of the continent are expected to be discussed as the summit progresses.